Breath Of Life

The life and times of Mr Mark Allen....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A tale of two singers (and lots of nuns!)

Hiya Bloggeteers,

*** Latest: My article on Blogging is in the Express & Star tonight...(Friday)

Ooooh more media whoring from yours truly.

Radio WM rang up and needed someone to speak about a proposed change in the law which will mean everyone who dies will be a potential organ donor - unless they opt out in their lifetime. (The 'opt out' system)

At the moment its an 'opt in' system - so its assumed people DON'T want to donate unless they go on the register....

And I know there are even friends of mine who are not on the organ transplant register...Selfish bastards. Click on this link CLICK

The problem is apathy. People are apathetic. People agree with the principle but don't do anything about it...This is why we still have a Government in power who many don't trust or like....

Anyway...It came across well and there were some sensible caller (unusual for BBC local radio I know!)

THere is a country estate in our village up for sale at £2.5 million. I saw a car with RW4 on the front of it nearby today.... ROBBIE WILLIAMS IN CANNOCK WOOD?

On Monday afternoon I met a local farmer who has built a footpath on his land so people can get from Nunswell Park to see the actual 'Nun's Well'.

There is already a link to the site of the old convent (or monastery - depending on the story) which was eventually turned into a hunting lodge by Henry II.

There are all kind of legends surrounding the land including the story of a nobleman's daughter who didn't wish to marry the local youth lines up for her.

She ran away and lived on Cannock Chase but her father found her and killed her (!). He later became a Christian and kept some of her hair as a kind of holy relic.

This was tended and looked-after by the nuns.... And so it goes on.

On Tuesday I went to Lichfield and bumped into several people I know and a couple of people I didn't spoke to me, because they'd read my feature in the Express & Star.

I saw J at H&B and a girl who works in Cornerstone Cafe among others. Busy bees. Oh yes also saw Abi who used to wrk at the PG...

Mum's college friend K came on Wednesday and we went to the Heart Of The Country Village, Swinfen Hall.....Great for Xmas pressies, but bring your credit cards!

(K is the mother of Emma who ran in the Great North Run for CF. I have known the family since I was born....And before!)

The waitress in the cafe at Swinfen, with the blondest hair you ever did see, worked as a singer and dancer on a cruise ship. Everyone has a story you see.

She now lives in Chasetown - about two miles away from our little village!

Perhaps she could link up with RW!

I received a limited edition 7" vinyl single from the band Ladytron...I don't know if I won it or am on their mailing list.....Interesting anyway...

Talking of music I have new reviews of albums by Richard Thompson and KT Tunstall at CLICK...

*It is Jo+66 long-term Bloggites and day 549 for me on the transplant list....

Click here to e-mail me

Click here to see my photos

Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton
Music: Monastery Of Sound

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hair, Air and Huge Underwear!

*I was on BBC Radio WM this morning (Monday) talking about proposed changes to the laws on transplant donation. They are proposing the 'opt out' system where its assumed everyone will be a donor unless they express and wish otherwise. This is a tremendous idea, but with our Parliamentary system may take years to come into law. Keep the faith!


The Korean flag, called "Tae Kuk," symbolises the thought, philosophy, and mysticism of the Far East. Its a really cool flag methinks...Google it - loads of history!

That's my 'Thought For The Day' bit over with children. Now for the news...

I have just sent in my fifth column for the E&S. I want them to have some in hand for when I have the operation and am 'out of action' for a while...

The first one has gone in. It was a background piece on what it's like 'on the list' waiting for transplant....etc etc...

I am trying to put my opinions in there, but also to highlight local people of interest....Any feedback would be useful!

I am seeing a bloke tomorrow about an old friary near the village, which is apparently surrounded by controversy (which I think is a kind of weed!)

It is the end of the line for the sheep, wool-fans. A stray electrical lead knocked him over and he shed his wool (a kind of lamb-opecia?)

On Thursday I went for a haircut at 'Top Cuts' - I asked Miss S just to make me 'trendy' - Haircuts are good things....having someone else wash your hair is great + you pick up all the local gossip.

My hairdressed Miss S has a new haircut herself. It's wavy and looks really good on her but she won't go out with it like that because she only 'pulls men' when it is straight apparently....

I suppose its like 'lucky pants syndrome' - It made me laugh anyway...bless.

Mum and I then tottles intop Lichfield. The sum was shining and everything was ok. I even saw Miss J at H&B - which always perks up my day.

I went to Cannock Library and got an album by Air out and bought a CD of monk chants from Burton's (Yes, the clothes place!)....crazy world.

I spent Saturday afternoon at Brownhills (oh purgatory come hither!)

For the uninitiated Brownhills Market is an...erm...experience! Grown men standing on top of stalls selling handbags for a quid; men in hoods selling CDs, DVDs and tights (yes....I never understood the tights bit either)

It is good for me because the bank machine is in town which is a short hill away from the I get my exercise...

There is a stall which sells underwear for obese people....One day I will take a pic and put it on here...

Saturday evening I met up with V and C and C.McG for a meal...

It was very pleasant. We have such bizarre professions there are always stories to tell. AND V+C have Charlotte and Izzy, two highly individual cats....

C.McG told us of a story in her paper about a dog which thought it was a cow. It grazed and lived in a feild...It hadn't started mooing - yet! Fantastic...

Today (Sunday) M McG and T (I knew M McG in Korea) came over. Her b/f T comes from Stafford so they popped in on the way back to Nottingham.

After I left it was one of those afternoons where I was too sleepy to so much, but not sleepy enough to sleep...(!?)

If I do sleep in the afternoon I wake up coughing and it isn't very pleasant so I try not to anyway....I followed the cricket on teletext instead! lol

My dreams have been getting even more bizarre than usual this week. In one dream I was travelling in South America somewhere with the lovely JT (Hello to Sutton College!) and we were trying to set up a school, but people kept turning the classrooms into bedrooms.....on

I posted off some packages this week. So Mr B, Miss K and Miss E, let me know what you think!

I also replied to all those little Koreans who wrote to me to help them with their English...

Oh congratulations to K.S whose boyfriend proposed to her underwater - he even presented the ring under the sea, in a teabag!

And happy new house to H.C who has moved to 'Smelly Joke' in Brum...

*It is Jo+63 long-term Bloggites and day 546 for me on the transplant list....

Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton
Music: KT Tunstall, Air, Goldfrapp

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Floggy Blog and Goldberg

*** The first of my new columns is in the Express & Star today - Saturday


This is what happened when Kirsty sent me a sheep with magical growing wool! The pictures are from top to bottom 1pm, 5pm and 1pm the next day!

Is that the best white-ram afro you have ever seen?...

I was going to name it Flossy, then someone asked if I was going to put 'Floggy' on my 'Floggy' it became

Apart from growing my own sheep (gosh I ought to get out more) What have I been up to?

The ever-lovely Miss G from next door came round on Sunday night. Always good to have a natter!

Then on Monday BB and JB came over from Brum and we 'did' Lidl and McDonalds (shame on me, I know)...My excuse was I had to go into the E&S office in Cannock.

Lichfield and Tamworth College STILL hasn't enabled the PCs for me to do my webdesign exam. So I am STILL enjoying just messing around...I am learning more this way anyway...

But its been about three months since I passed the last module of the Clait Plus and I still haven't got the certificate. There again it was about 4 months before I got my ECDL....How ironic is it that IT courses take the longest to administer?

On Tuesday JD and EV came over with their huge dog 'Joe'. JD's family and ours used to go on holiday together when we were all knee high to a grasshopper.

Our mums went to college together and dads got on like a house on fire...

J and I used to terrorise the table-tennis tables of Spain and France. Of course it was only a ploy to try and get off with the cute

Anyway we all went up to the PG for lunch. I find I can walk there and back now. It takes me a while, but I have the time. Its good exercise.

And the beer or coffee at the end of it is good motivation. It also keeps the old pedometer busy!

On Wednesday it was hospital day again. SO we got up at 6.30am (my body doesn't recognise this as a real time anymore) and mum filled the car with the oxygen and overnight things - in case we get the call to Newcastle while we were there.

I got prodded and poked and had to blow into things and all the usual stuff. There are some minor things that may need more attention down the line, but nothing major to report...I am always paranoid I will be put on more IVs....

Radio WM phoned and want to do a telephone interview with me on the Adrian Goldberg Breakfast Show on either Thursday or Friday this week....I will put it on here when I know. Anyone not in the area will be able to catch it via the BBC website.

*It is Jo+59 long-term Bloggites and day 542 for me on the transplant list....

Petrol Update: 89p per litre for unleaded at ASDA

Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton
Music: KT Tunstall, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Goldfrapp

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Focus Pocus


How is it going? (I bet some of you said 'ok thanks' at the screen just then!)

The Focus Group was interesting...It was a bit of a bind filling up the car with oxygen and overnight stuff (in case we got the call)...but we trundled off.

There were about 15 people...most of them elderly. and we were asked about different aspects of the NHS in general and Heartlands Hospital in particular....

The postives took about 15 minutes....the negatives about an hour....

I didn't know where to start....The Health Care Assistants taking unable to read sinple medical intruments, me being given wrong drugs, doctors not speaking English.

Apparently it was all in aid of this Choose and Book system...whereby people choose what hospital they have their operations in...

The more people choose Heartlands, part of a 'Foundation Trust', the more cash it gets.

People will choose hospitals the way we now choose universities or holiday venues...

I read a story in Private Eye this week that the system is only a computer network as yet..and that is already in overdraft!

Hope your are all well?

My new home page is still taking shape.

Click on the link and enjoy! CLICK

While we are on the subject of websites my lovely ex Paula has a new one for her alternative therapy centres.... Take a look....(and see a pic of her too!) CLICK

On Friday we had a visit from H and I and their Spanish student Andy.

H was brought up with Dad as their mum's were best friends in the war (or something like that)...We went to the PG (surprise surprise) and had lunch.

Then I went to New Life (not somewhere to literally get a New Life but a clothing warehouse place where big name stored donate clothes and then the public buys them at knock-down prices for charity...)

On Saturday we went to Lichfield (saw Miss J at H & B) then to Cannock...I don't yet know when the first of my columns is going in the Express and Star so I am buying the Cannock edition every day.....

Well done to Emma today who was doing the Great North Run! I think I saw you...If you were wearing a yellow top and holding hands with another girl in yellow going through the start!

Off to write my 'Village News' bit for the Mercury now...ta ta!

*It is Jo+56 long-term Bloggites and day 539 for me on the transplant list....

PSL You have to laugh at all the fools who queued for hours to fill up their tanks only for prices to fall the next day! DOH!

Book: Gridlock by Ben Elton
Music: Nine black Alps, The Editors, Clor

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Baby Smokers and Baby Ghosts

Hiya Bloggedaires,

First of all those Aussies tuning in....'na na nana naaaaa'! And Pietersen is a former Cannock player too!

The Aussie down the road, who is staying with neighbours, is off home tomorrow and I couldn't resist rubbing it in...

Its about time we beat them anyway. We beat everyone else except the Aussies and we were still seen as being rubbish. (A throwback from those who last watched England in 1993!)

Well tomorrow I am off to a Focus Group meeting at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. I am a patient member of the trust and we get to have our say - or I think that's what the forum is for - on how its run.

I think I am probably only on to make up the 'disabled' numbers. Perhaps they are expecting someone who dribbles a lot and doesn't say much....boy will they be surprised. (But not that surprised, especially if I have a drink or three first!)

So what has been happening? I have got three of the feature columns finished and sent off and I have another two almost completed. I want to get ahead of myself as I will miss a couple while I am too ill to type, post-transplant.

I am sure they have internet in Newcastle somewhere..or is it still carrier pigeon?

My new home page is taking shape. It was not behaving at all how it ought to so I re-did it in a two hour frenzy at my Monday evening class.

Click on the link and enjoy! CLICK

Please make allowances for the fact it still needs touching up and de-bugged (Oooo-er!)

I have been going to Rugeley once a week. (There is a great new cheap shop next to Argos by the way.)

I normally meet my mum for coffee in the indoor market there. But this time it was full of young mothers (like there's any other kind in Rugeley!) Smoking and feeding their youngsters greasy food....

Health education obviously goes in one ear and out the other in Rugeley, like their offspring!

Why do people do this to their kids? Do they hate them? ME NO UNDERSTAND!

It is like that couple on Midlands Today last week who wouldn't put their baby on the transplant list because of religious reasons....

They were saving to take him to a special Mosque and for their English citizenship (No prizes for guessing they are assylum seekers) to come through.

The poor toddler died..... Why do people impose their beliefs on youngsters too tiny to make their own decision.

One wonders if it was all a scam to get their visas through....

Something spooky happened today. I went to the PG with Vickie (one of the Tale of Two Vickies) and her five-month-old daughter Gracie. *That's not the spooky bit..

I took a pic of pretty little Gracie and it was only when we looked at it afterwards we saw a ghostly face in the pram material...(I will text the picture to anyone who wants a look!)Pehaps Fortean Times would be interested...

After all the psychic investigations in the village in recent weeks...who knows!

Talking of babies. Little cousin O came (with his parentage of course) to see us on Sunday....He is neither a smoker or a ghost I am pleased to say.

Little O is like a cat. He needs to be entertained and has a very short attention span. Are all babies like this?

I was told today by J.S up the road that more red squirrels have been spotted in the village, just past Sammonds house, past Castle Ring. I can feel a column coming on!

I contacted Staffordshire Wildlife Trust after several sightings last year and it seems there are more of the little cuties around the place...Keep your eyes peeled!

*It is Jo+52 long-term Bloggites and day 535 for me on the transplant list....

Music: Richard Thompson, Royksopp
(Click here (CLICK) to read my Royksopp review)
Book: Internet Jokes (see how my reading went upmarket!)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hippy Chick, Elderly Stick and Mrs Smith!


Firstly I thought I would take a piccie of my dinner tonight...just so you can see WHY I am putting on weight! lol

Yesterday we went to Stafford and I found an exellent source of Hello Kitty stocked up! Why is Hello Kitty so cute? Perhaps Smarties have the answer!

Well I have bought some of your Christmas presents there anyway!

I went to ASDA on the way home to try and get a copy of the 'new look' Express & Star. The Stafford edition has been relaunched since I worked there. I wanted to see what kind of stuff the new columnists they have there write about...

While I was waiting therew I saw Jo A's mum and Mandy's man's mum (who recognised me from the TV) Gosh..and gosh again. (Gosh!)

Today I went to Cannock and bumped into H.C who I haven't seen in yonks and we had a good natter at George and Berties - a cafe frequented by old people.

It did look like God's waiting room today and we found two seats outside..

A man asked if her could have the chairs next to us and then sat two women down there - who seemed to just stare at us...

Then he glared at us....We have no idea what he wanted (apart from us to finish out coffees and give him the seat)

Since I am on oxygen and H.C had just come off a long shift I think we deserved a rest! Blooming old people giving us stick eh? Well there's a piece for a column...

Congratulations to H.C who has been accepted to do her Doctorate at Aston Uni and will be funding it by lecturing to the friend the doctor.

I reckon she must be the first Hednesford woman to achieve such a level of education!

In the evening mum and I went to see Mrs S who was my age during WWII (wow!) She has given us a picture of herself to use for the 60th anniversary of the end of the war party happening in October...

She is such a strong woman and so self-sufficient. She had a strong faith and I guess that keeps her going...

She has a few choice words to say about the NHS....and I can't argue with tha..She speaks common sense!

Her neighbour (who I used to deliver papers to when I was a lad) refused an inside toilet and still collected water from a well and heated bricks in an oven...

Gentleshaw is a village time forgot....And perhaps its not a bad thing...The elderly there all seem to live to a ripe old age! (I have just realised what a silly statement that is but....nevermind!)

Come on England..come on rain too!
Jo+47 and day 530 on the transplant list....

Click here to e-mail me

Click here to see my photos

MUSIC: Royksopp, Linkin Park
BOOK 'According To Queeney' by Beryl Bainbridge

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Eau De Cannock?


Hiya people. Firstly. Can you believe someone is selling 'Welsh Air' to ex-pats?

Do you think 'Cannock Air' has a market for those who can't do without the sweet smell of chip shops, cheap perfume and cider?

Perhaps we could have an 'Eau De Cannock' too. Ingredients on a postcard to...

Busy busy busy! But its the last day of my IVs today and I will then be able to type with two hands again (whoooopeee!)..

In a couple of days the itching and side effects will cease too....

It will be such a relief to have more time on my hands and not smell of antiobiotic, the not so subtle aroma not unlike cat urine!

{Perhaps that could be an ingredient of 'Cannock Air'....)

Talking of all things medical VS and CS (as in 'Tale Of Two Vickies' regularl readers) came round on Sunday with more tales of woe from Staffordshire General.

They are off to Ireland today and I know nothing Guinness can't cure!

The big news is I am going to write a little column for the Express & Star, the newspaper I used to work for from 1995-99, before I went travelling.

Its Cannock edition is having a make-over and its great to be included in that...

Before I forget. Here's the link to the BBC Do-nation site, providing loads of information about transplant donation. You can even sign up on-line...

What an amazing thing to do in your lunch hour. Do something that could save lives. - Give it a click!

It was great to get an e-mail from a fellow CF sufferer who is enjoying these little posts....

Talking of CF there's a Dr Sarah Walters, who has CF herself, giving a talk at Lichfield Garrick Theatre on September 13. The event, which starts at 7.30pm, costs £2 on the door.

Hello to; Marium, whose a bit under the weather and Miss J who was rushing out of H&B in Lichfield the other day..

Stats time: Today is Day 14 of my IVs...Jo+44 and day 527 on the transplant list....

Click here to e-mail me

Click here to see my photos

MUSIC: Gorillaz, Royksopp, KT Tunstall
BOOK 'According To Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge'

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Vampires and a Tory MP

Wow Bloggettes...busy busy busy

I took a picture of the dining room full of my IV drugs...Its a pity your screen isn't scratch and sniff...

Yesterday I had to get up at 7am have my nebulisers and other drugs and draw up my IV antiobiotics and take them, in their syringes, to Salter's Meadow..

(This is not, despite the name a new-age hippy drop-out or bunny-ridden field, but the local GP surgery.)

I then was supposed to have blood taken, before and after injecting the stuff into me, so they could measure the 'levels'.

Too much antibiotic can cause kidney damage, too little won't do any good...

But I fogot the little form and had to phone mum to get her to bring it...Then I had to do my IVs in the room while nursey took blood from lots of other people..

Then there was an hour gap before they could take my second blood sample..vampires..

An hour seems like a day when you have to spend it in Burntwood. I looked for the black pudding factory that the blood goes to fuel...I couldn't find it!

So I found refuge in Cornerstone, a cafe on the site of the former cinema...To think BURNTWOOD once had a CINEMA eh?!

Then we met my favourite Godmother Carrie S and hit former home town and spent an hour-and-a-half around the shops...

Stafford is an odd but strangely engaging place. The Big Issue seller doesn't speak English and can't understand British money (doh!)...

'The Soup Kitchen' is an up-market cafe and not a relief station for down-and-outs...It has a 'Gatehouse' which isn't a gatehouse, but a theatre...get the gist?

There is even an 'Ancient High House' which isn't very ancient, not high and definitely not a house! Ho hum...

The town is also a retirement home for has-been musicians and former also-rans...Perhaps that's its charm? I like it.

By the time we got home there was just time for my IVs and nebulisers before my PC class....Both assessors couldn't find the bug which continues to bug my new site..

Thursday was the farmers' market in Lichfield...(It takes place underneath the bust of its most famous son Dr Johnson...He wrote the first dictionary...)

It (the market, not the dictionary!) is hotch-potch of local producers, wine-sellers and 'organic' vegetables...!

After a long wander I met mum for a coffee in the Garrick Theatre...and who was there..but Michael Fabricant MP, who is a jovial man...

He is a journalists' dream of an MP, always ready with a quote on anything and very media friendly. I once went on a mountain rescue weekend with him in Kendall..

The Chairwoman of Lichfield District Council came over and said hello too.

It was the opening of the new Tourist Information Centre inside the theatre and a prize giving and photo shoot for kids who designed postcards....very surreal.

I did see two girls I used to go to school with later, MP and LP but they were on the other side of the road and in my condition I can't shout or cross over quickly...

So if they saw me...I wasn't being rude or ignoring you ok!

Stats time: Tomorrow is Day 10 of my IVs...Jo+39 and day 522 on transplant list....

BBC 'serious' pic of Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who I met today...

Click here to e-mail me

Click here to see my photos

MUSIC: Gorillaz, Royksopp, Green Day,
BOOK 'According To Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge'